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Abstract

The present work takes place within the general context of research related to the development of nuclear fusion energy. More specifically, this thesis is mainly a numerical and physical contribution to the understanding of turbulence and associated transport phenomena occuring in tokamak plasmas, the most advanced and promising form of magnetically confined plasmas. The complexity of tokamak plasma phenomena and related physical models, either fluid or kinetic, requires the development of numerical codes to perform simulations of the plasma behaviour under given conditions defined by the magnetic geometry as well as density and temperature profiles. The studies presented in this work are based on electrostatic kinetic simulations, taking advantage of a reduced kinetic model (the gyrokinetic model) which is particularly suitable for studying turbulent transport in magnetically confined plasmas, in effect solving an approximate form of the Vlasov equation for the distribution function of each species (electrons, ions) along with a reduced form of the Poisson equation providing the self-consistent electric fields. The main tool of this work, the gyrokinetic ORB5 code making use of numerical particles according to the Particle-In-Cell (PIC) method, has been upgraded during this thesis with different linearized collision operators related to both ions and electrons. The BIRDIE code, enabling to study collisional effects on the evolution of Langmuir waves in an unmagnetized plasma, has been written in order to serve as a test-bed for the collision operators ultimately implemented in ORB5. Some essential algorithms related to collisional simulations have been jointly implemented, such as the two-weight scheme which is extensively described in this work. The collision operators in ORB5 have been further carefully tested through neoclassical simu- lations and benchmarked against other codes, providing reliable levels of collisional transport. Together with different procedures controlling the numerical noise, the collision operators have then been applied to the study of collisional turbulent transport in two different regimes, the Ion-Temperature-Gradient (ITG) regime and the Trapped-Electron-Mode (TEM) regime re- quiring a trapped electron kinetic response. Although not dominant in core tokamak plasmas, collisional effects nevertheless lead to interesting modifications in the turbulence behaviour which are not captured by the often considered collisionless gyrokinetic models. The so-called coarse-graining procedure, a noise-control algorithm which is suitable for collisional gyrokinetic simulations with particles, is shown to enable carrying out relevant simulations over many col- lision times. Consequently, reliable conclusions regarding turbulent transport in the presence of collisions could be drawn in this thesis. Namely, the turbulent transport in the ITG regime is found to be enhanced by ion collisions through interactions with so-called zonal flows as- sociated to axisymmetric modes, while it is reduced by electron collisions in the TEM regime through electron detrapping processes. The zonal flow dynamics in collisionless and collisional ITG turbulence simulations is studied, emphasizing the limitation of the zonal flow level due to Kelvin-Helmoltz-type instabilities. Additionally, some purely collisionless issues related to tokamak physics are discussed, such as the finite plasma size effects in TEM-dominated regime which are found to be important in non-linear simulations but unimportant in linear simu- lations. The role of zonal flows in temperature-gradient-driven TEM turbulence saturation is confirmed to be weak, in agreement with previous studies. Finally, a realistic global gy- rokinetic simulation, accounting for a proper TCV tokamak magnetic equilibrium and related experimental profiles, has been successfully carried out thus demonstrating the relevance of the ORB5 code for predictions related to physics of real tokamaks. A good agreement with GAM experimental measurements is indeed obtained.

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